Lonelyhearts

United Artists/ Twentieth Century Pictures
Montgomery Clift, Myrna Loy, Deloris Hart, Maureen Stapleton
1958

Nathanial West is not for the faint of heart! His novels are brutal, soul crushing depictions of life in the United States during the Great Depression. Miss Lonelyhearts, on which the film is based, is fraught with themes of alienation as people are reduced to mere cogs in the wheels of mass production, in this case the newspaper business, at the peak of the Industrial Revolution. Whew. That was a mouthful! Even this film, made to the white washing  motion picture production code, Lonelyhearts, is wrought with bleak, dismal depictions of the lives of its desperate characters. These themes still hold true today at the dawn of the Information Age. People have fewer opportunities for interpersonal communication and rely more on email, texting, instant messaging, and social media.

You may be wondering why Fabby would choose a such a dark depressing movie to review. Well sometimes these movies can be cathartic. Misery loves company and all that.

This sanitized updated (to the 1950s) version has great impact due to the intense performance by Montgomery Clift.  This film was made about a year after Montgomery Clift fell asleep at the wheel.and smashed his car into a telephone pole after leaving a dinner party at the home of Elizabeth Taylor. He had to have massive facial reconstruction surgeries, which gave him a harder more chiseled look, in comparison to his original handsome, angelic appearance.  This dramatic changer of appearance actually works in this film.

Before and After

before_after2

Also in the film is the beautiful Deloris Hart, who famously left her acting career and a fiance in 1963 to become a Nun, a story that was recounted in the documentary God is Bigger than Elvis. Yes, Miss Hart did co-star with “The King” in the film Loving You.

Deloris Hart

hart

Fun fact! Sister Deloris’ Benedictine Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Connecticut is where actress Patricia Neal went to seek solace when her marriage to Raold Dahl (acclaimed children’s author who is known for the novels Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Big Peach, and Matilda among others. For a complete bibliography look here) ended in divorce Also, he was a complete douche who divorced Neal, a woman who bore him five children (she carried one child during and after she suffered a debilitating stroke and had to learn to walk and talk again) for his young assistant named Felicity. Also, in Fabby’s opinion, Raold Dahl is a boorish, sexist misogynist rube.

Neal visited the Abbey many times, converted to Catholicism, and is buried there.

Maureen Stapleton (fourth cousin to Jean Stapleton) was nominated for an Academy Award for this, her first film.

But I digress.

The film opens up in a bar because people in the 1950s drank and smoked…a lot. Adam White (Montgomery Clift) is invited by Florence Shrike (Myrna Loy) to sit and have a drink.  White declines the drink because he doesn’t do well with alcohol but agrees to have a chat. He’s looking for a job and Florence Strike just happens to be the wife of William Strike (played by Robert Ryan in a great performance as the deliciously smarmy and sadistic editor of the Chronicle newspaper). Shrike arrives at the bar to meet his wife ( Florence doesn’t work and spends a lot of time sitting in the bar waiting for her lout of a husband to show up) and is introduced to White. Strike wonders how White knew to find him in that particular bar and White tells him because it’s close to the paper’s office building. BRILLIANT! He asks White to write an audition piece for the paper and White writes an article about meeting the boorish Strike and being witness to the cruel and insulting way he treats his wife.  Instead of offending him, Strike is amused by the article (aren’t all women supposed to be treated badly?) and White is hired. He is given the task of writing the Miss Lonelyhearts advice-to-the-lovelorn column.

Justy (Deloris Hart), White’s virginal fiance is thrilled with the news. She wants to get married and out of her household where she works full-time and cooks and cleans (women’s work) for her father and younger brothers. Who needs that?

As time progresses, White finds himself consumed with the problems of his letter writers.  He asks Strike for a different position at the paper but Strike, who enjoys watching the intense young reporter suffer, refuses. He mocks White’s empathy (manly men do not empathize) for his readers and the emotional toll it takes on him. Strike orders him to contact the letter writers to confirm their stories.  Having personal contact with his readers is more than White can bear and he goes back to drinking (in the bar near the newspaper where Mrs. Strike apparently lives and has her own personal booth). The bar also has a snazzy jagged jazzy jukebox that plays in the background which adds to Whites angst.
He does a lot of head holding and bulging eyes.

One of the readers he contacts is Fay Doyle (played by Maureen Stapleton who gives a wonderful performance as the blowsy, dingy unfulfilled house wife) Doyle confides in White that her husband came home from “the war” (not sure if it was WWII or Korea) and that she and her husband are no longer intimate. Then Doyle practically jumps White (not an exaggeration) and they have sexy time.
This now adds guilt to Whites list of problems. White rejects Doyle’s request for another “meeting” and she becomes furious!

Also, White has a deep dark secret about his past that he keeps from everyone including Justy.

So, what is White’s secret? Will he ever get out of his debilitating assignment at the paper or be driven mad? Will Strikes’ mocking incite White to violence?  Will White and Justy’s relationship survive? Will Justy’s dad and brothers learn to take care of themselves? Will Strike ever meet his wife on time? And what is Doyle’s diabolical plot for revenge? You have to watch the movie to find out. Luckily it’s free on youtube!

 

 

 

Life or Something Like It

lifeposter

2002
Angelina Jolie, Ed Burns, Tony Shaloub

Fabby has recently purchased one of those HD tee vees and now she can see things that she never noticed before, like: small pox marks, hair highlighters, crows feet, etc. It’s a revelation!

The movie I’m reviewing today did not get good reviews (total score 28% on rotten tomatoes)
but Fabby likes it anyway.

Lanie Kerrigan (played by Angelina Jolie before Brad, heck I think even before Billy Bob) is a newscaster at a local Seattle, Washington tv station. She’s blonde, eats nothing but lettuce, works out constantly to keep her tiny figure and is career driven. She lives with, and is engaged to, Seattle Mariner baseball player Cal Cooper.  Cal is cute but shallow and dense. This arrangement works out well because Cal is never home.  When they are together, they go to dinners and other local social events. One day Laney’s boss tells her, to her delight,  the national network is looking for someone new and he’s sending them one of her tapes to review. For Lanie, life is perfect and perfect is defined as a great job, great man, great apartment and great hair.

In the mean time, the network sends her to interview a local prognosticator Prophet Jack (he’s a street person who shares his prophesies literally on a grocery box for small change in downtown Seattle). He’s played by the fabulous Tony Shaloub who’s great in anything: Nurse Jackie, Men in Black, Monk) Laney hates the camera man she’s sent with to do the story, who’s listed only as Pete. He’s played by Edward Burns, not to be confused with Edd “cookie” Burns.  Edward Burns is charming and cute but he only dates and/ or marries models in real life, but I digress.  Pete knows his way around the ladies, lots of ladies, and this makes Lanie say “ewwww”. Pete and Laney lobby insults at each other (Pete: Who else can film her like she’s a natural blond?, Laney (to Pete): How’s bachelorette number three? Ha Ha Ha) Laney asks Prophet Jack if she will get the tryout at the network. He tells her no and that she will die in seven days. EEeeeeks.

Lanie is thrown into a week of introspection.  She looks to her fiance, friends and family for advice but they are not any help. At this point in the film Cal Cooper kind of disappears with no explanation, I think this is called a hole in the plot. Lanie gets soused and shows up late for work the next day tousled and in messy clothes and still a little drunk.  She interviews striking bus drivers and leads them in a rousing chorus of “Satisfaction” .  She later wakes up in Pete’s house and he tells her she passed out in his truck. Pete shows her that her tv spot with the striking bus drivers is all over the national news.  Laney is mortified and is sure her career is over.

Laney finds she can talk to Pete about what’s troubling her and decides to spend the day with him. This includes a visit from his young son, a son whose existence Laney was unaware of. Pete tells her he gave up his network job in New York to move to Seattle to be near his son. Laney realizes she has misjudged Pete and is charmed by him. The next day, Pete and Laney go to work together but instead of getting fired, Laney finds out she got a try out for the network job. She’s thrilled and asks Pete to go with her but he thinks that Lanie’s ambition will never be satisfied and he won’t be separated from his son so he turns her down.

Laney thinks that since she got the network tryout, Prophet Jack’s foretelling of her death is null and void.  She finds out that she will be interviewing her idol, Deborah Conners.  Deborah Connors is a cross between Barbara Walters and Oprah.  Her trademark is to ask bold and personal questions which make her interviewees dissolve in tears. Lanie has a list of questions for Deborah Connors but instead asks her if she regrets not getting married or giving up a personal life for fame and fortune. Ms. Connors is taken aback and finds herself dissolving in tears. The interview is a success and Laney is offered the job. Meanwhile, back in Seattle, Pete visits Prophet Jack and realizes his phrophecies are real. He tries to reach Laney to warn her but can’t reach her on her cell phone or at the network so he hops a plane for New York.

Will Laney take the job? Does she die? Can Pete save her? Will we ever see Cal Cooper again? To find out you’ll have to watch the movie.

Looking for Mr. Goodbar

Looking for Mr. Goodbar

1977, starring Diane Keaton, Richard Gere, Tuesday Weld

Paramount Pictures

I’ve been looking for this movie for a while. I had seen it in the movies when it came out in 1977 and maybe, probably on HBO in the mid 80s. I checked Amazon, Netflix, Fandango. No luck. Then for a lark I checked YouTube and there it was!

Oh my is it dated. It’s actually based on a true story. But the film makers picked popular 70s themes: Catholic sexual repression, sexual revolution, the generation gap, disco/rock music, free love, and women’s liberation (70s style). Theresa Dunn lives at home with her large Irish Catholic Family.  The noisy household is stuffed with busy looking 70s furniture, papers, people and a tv that’s always on. In the Dunne house, the phone rings constantly, dad bellows from his chair in the living room about “young people these days”, mom’s in the kitchen cooking, so many siblings (all girls) I can’t count. Theresa is attending college to study as a teacher for the deaf  and works part-time for her sexist, hipster MARRIED professor. In class she writes papers about Confession and how sorry not sorry she feels about the sins she’s committed. Oh and she has scoliosis. That comes into play later.  It causes her to have a tiny limp. What’s a good Catholic girl to do when she’s being repressed? Have sex with her married misogynist professor ( who says lame crap like “I detest talking to a woman I just fucked”) of course. He also has one of those 70s caucasion men afro perms. swoon. Her older sister Katherine, a DIVORCED stewardess (70’s lingo for a loose woman),  has suitors in every major city with an airport.  Katherine is blonde and doesn’t have a slight limp and puts out so she’s very desirable. Katherine commits the good Catholic’s girl second best revenge (after becoming an unmarried wanton slut). Becoming a wanton slut who MARRIES a wealthy Jew! Eeeeks.

When not smoking dope, watching porn and being swingers, Katherine and her new hubby invite Theresa to move into the apt. house they just bought. Theresa takes them up on their offer. Lickety split a few scenes later, Katherine leaves her Jewish hubby, who is now shacking up with a teenager. Ah the 70s.  Katherine departs the apartment building to go find herself leaving Theresa there alone. For the first time Theresa is an independent woman

Theresa takes up with two men: a do-gooder social worker named James who still goes to Church and a thug named Tony (played by Richard Gere in one of his first movie roles) she picks up in a bar. James treats her well and is on an intellectual par with her.  Tony ? well Tony is mad bad and dangerous to know. He treats her like crap.  So of course Theresa prefers Tony! Tony introduces her to great sex, hard drugs like cocaine so she starts missing work. In spite of her “active social life, Theresa is actually a very good teacher. So when her other life gets in the way of her job THAT’S BIG. Then she gets busted for possession of drugs and is fired from her job. All of this irresponsible behavior is the fault of the repressive  Catholic Church of course.  It represses Theresa into being a slut. Bad repressive Catholic Church.

James and Tony continue to pursue Theresa. James goes so far as to buy her a STROBE LIGHT (true love!) ! This features heavily later in the movie. Theresa begins to resent the intrusions and demands from her family, Katherine, James, her dad and Tony. On NYE she says, “aw fuck it !” and joins noisily revelers in the streets. So what’s next? Does Theresa’s wanton ways catch up with her? Does she pick James or Tony? How does the strobe light figure into all of this?  To find out what happens  watch the movie!